A recent Wall Street Journal headline caught my eye and got me to thinking in all kinds of creative ways. The headline read, “Want to Stop Arguing and Change Spouse’s Behavior? Start With Mirror.” The article then opened with –

Ever want to change something about your partner? Get him or her to eat better or work less? Exercise more? Stop nagging or yelling? Start with a mirror.

Your best chance of transforming someone else—and the dynamic in your relationship—is to demonstrate your willingness to alter your own actions, experts say.

The article went on to cite studies and give good examples that supported this theme, however I was captivated by the reference to the item that each of us uses every day – that being a mirror. It struck me that a mirror, more than any other thing or item, may be the best mascot for representing the choice theory approach to life. The total behavior car is a graphic or thing that has entered the pantheon of choice theory tools, but the simple mirror may capture the essence of choice theory in ways the car cannot.

One teacher tapped into this truth beautifully when she hung a mirror in the back of her classroom, with the following captions prominently displayed underneath.

Whose behavior can I control?

How can I behave in a way that might change this situation for the better?

She referred to the mirror as she taught about the concepts of choice theory, especially at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t unusual for her to see a student standing in front of the mirror, studying themselves in the frame before them, quietly reviewing the questions underneath.

Toward the close of the school year one fifth-grader shared, “That mirror got to me. There was some other choice theory stuff I liked, but that mirror .  .  . it just sat there, day after day reminding me about how I’m the only person I can control. It’s true.” The teacher learned just how much of an impact the mirror in the classroom had on this student when the child’s mother informed the teacher that her son had written out these questions and taped them to the bathroom mirror at home? The teacher recalled how the mother became emotional as she described the effect that bathroom mirror was having on their home, especially on the conversations she and her husband were starting to have.


A mirror – a simple, common mirror – needs to be a part of my choice theory workshops from now on. I need to think of mini-lessons or activities that will tap into the power of this everyday item. Your help on this would be appreciated. Any ideas?

Still a classic, no matter how many times I see it.

Ezekiel, yes, dry bones Ezekiel “got” this important principle – the principle of the mirror – when he wrote in Ezekiel 3:10 –

Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.”


A Michael Jackson song proclaims the truth about the mirror, too. The chorus of his famous song says –

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror

I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways

And No Message Could’ve Been Any Clearer

If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place

Take A Look At Yourself And

Then Make That . . .



The Choice Theory Study Group this month meets on January 25.

4 Responses to “Mirror Power”

Post a comment
  1. Anita Molstead says:

    Jim–this is a great post–wish I was more of a techie to reply in a better way. Linda Usher sent us 2 terrific books, Dick is going to call you about the one he is reading now:  He thinks it’s mandatory for Choice Theory–that’s an oxymoron. Anyway, title:  The WillPower Instinct   How Self-Control Works, Why it matters and what we can do to get more of it, by Kelly McGonigal, she is at Stanford. Blessings, Anita

  2. Janice Stevenson says:

    Dear Jim, Life has a way of intangling us and preventing us from sometimes responding to things in a timely manner but I love this Mirror concept and I know personally that it works. I had written this poem for the students to learn and I would like to share it with you. It is copyrighted and registered with the Library of Congress.

    Mirror, Mirror
    Janice Irene Stevenson ©February 5, 2013

    When I look in the mirror, what do I see?
    Do I see Jesus or do I just see me?
    Do I reflect His image of perfection above?
    Do I show His kindness, compassion, and selfish love?
    Perhaps what I see I do not like.
    I know that my life is not perfectly right.
    I will pray to my Father and ask Him to forgive,
    And for the rest of my days, for Him I will live.
    Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
    We all know the answer. It’s plain to see. I am the fairest when Christ is reflected in me.

    • Jim Roy says:

      Janice, it is so good to hear from you. And thank you for sharing this poem. What a great closing line — I am the fairest when Christ is reflected in me.

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